For more from Jenna Bush Hager, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

By Charlotte Triggs and Jen Juneau
November 21, 2019 09:00 AM
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It’s a 50/50 split in parenting for Jenna Bush Hager and Henry Hager.

In a chat with PEOPLE for this week’s issue, the Today show star recalls her own childhood, and how her parents Laura Bush and President George W. Bush inspired the equal partnership between her and her husband when it comes to their three kids: son Henry “Hal” Harold, 3 months, plus daughters Poppy Louise, 4, and Margaret “Mila” Laura, 6½.

“In a time when probably a lot of dads weren’t showing up, my dad showed up, and he helped because there was no choice. There were two of us at the same time, and they were equal parents,” says Bush Hager, 37.

“My dad was home before 5 p.m., he would go for a jog and I’d ride my bike next to him. Our parents made the time for us,” the mother of three remembers.

In her own household today, that model behavior translates to “Daddy and Mommy both do diapers. Daddy and Mommy both do bedtime. We both do baths. We both do dinner,” she says.

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Jenna Bush Hager and her kids
Brian Doben

And some days, one — or the other — flies solo and does it all when it comes to caring for their children as both Hager and Bush Hager’s jobs can require overnight traveling.

“I don’t want to be in a tit-for-tat thing, because sometimes I need to travel too, so I’m just like, ‘Everything’s great,’ ” Bush Hager adds, laughing. “Meanwhile there’s glitter slime everywhere.”

As far as her upbringing alongside twin sister Barbara Pierce Bush, the former first daughter insists their childhood was a “very, very normal” experience in suburban Dallas with their parents, where she and Barbara shared a room and “walked to [their] public school” together.

“When my parents got home from work, there was nothing else; we didn’t have the internet,” Bush Hager adds. “So that worries me, just about all of our kids — that hopefully they know that they’re our priority and that we’re not looking down at our computers or our telephones and making them feel like they’re insignificant. It’s a big deal.”

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Meanwhile, she and husband Hager, 41, are soaking up time with their little ones, even if their schedules can get tricky to coordinate.

“If I’m alone with all three kids, which I have been because my husband travels for work, it’s tricky,” Bush Hager says. “I’ll put the baby to bed first and then I’ll read with [the girls].”

“Our life is slightly chaotic and adjusting to three kids has been a little crazy,” she admits. “Whenever anybody walks in, we go, ‘Welcome to the nut house.’ Who says that? I do.”

For more from Jenna Bush Hager, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.